Vitaly Kravtsov
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

New York Rangers first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov has some decisions to make along with Jeff Gorton regarding where he’ll play hockey next season.

The New York Rangers selection of Vitali Kravtsov in the first round of last week’s NHL Draft was a surprise to many, considering he was ranked 12th or lower by the majority of the league. For Jeff Goron and the team’s scouting staff, they got the man they wanted all along.

Now the question of when he will come to North America is on top of the organization’s priority list.

Kravtsov, 18, 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, was named KHL rookie of the year despite tallying just four goals and three assists in 35 games while averaging 9:19 in ice time. He experienced an increased role in 16 KHL playoff games with 11 points (six goals and five assists), the most in a single KHL postseason by an under-20 player.

Speaking to reporters following the first day of the Rangers prospect development camp the Russian forward gave the impression that he would prefer to play in the states next season as opposed to paying another year in the KHL.

Kravtsov told Colin Stephenson of Newsday, “I will do everything I can to play as soon as I can.”

The first-round pick has the option to buy out the final year of his contract. Jeff Gorton is expected to meet with Kravtsov’s agent, Paul Theofanous, later in the week to discuss options both sides may take.

“[It] depends on how I go through this process of the development camp, what the coach is seeing, what the expectations are from me coming into this year,’’ and added, “I’ll listen to them and listen to their advice,” he told reporters regarding how he would ultimately make his decision.”

The situation is similar to what last year’s first-round pick Filip Chytil went through.

Chytil was an 18-year-old who wanted to stay in North America instead of going back to the Czech Republic. Chytil started the season in New York but then was sent to AHL Hartford to fine tune his game.

For now, Vitali Kravtsov will enjoy his time in New York playing in scrimmages at the MSG training center while having some fun with his prospect teammates in New York City.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at